For my quick, 8 hour trip to Manhattan last Saturday I knew that I wanted to see as many famous sites as I could in such a short timeframe, but my very first priority without question was, Where am I going to eat? And not in a basic human need kind of way, but in a sugarlust-fueled, must try new bakeries kind of excitement. I'd even picked out Bombay Talkie in Chelsea as my dinner locale before I'd purchased my bus tickets (courtesy of a great tip from Juli B). If you're a fan of Indian cuisine this hotspot puts a chic spin on traditional Indian roadside fare. The malai kofta and Toofan cocktail I had were delicious. When it came to bakeries, the number of amazing choices in NYC are simply overwhelming so I put out a call on Twitter for suggestions from those more knowledgeable. Thanks to Tweeps TanyaBrothen and FrenchTwistDC I got great recommendations for bakeries both classically famous and freshly unique.
After a three hour open bus tour, you can bet that I was ready to beat the rush of the big city with a cupcake timeout, and my first stop was to Magnolia Bakery. While Magnolia is arguably The Bakery That Started It All, pioneering the cupcake craze in New York 10 years ago, you may also know them as Those Cupcakes From Sex & The City. Magnolia now has several bakeries throughout the city and I stopped by their Midtown location, which I'd be willing to bet has the most expensive rent of any bakery in the country. On the same block as Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and just a block from shopping mecca 5th Avenue and the Diamond District...you can imagine that these cupcakes are doing pretty well for themselves. So, you may be surprised that I visited this epicenter of all things cupcake and did NOT have a cupcake. That's right. I wasn't able to get to the shop until late in the afternoon, by which point the place was jam-packed and the only cakes left were chocolate and vanilla. Call me a cupcake snob, but I feel like anyone can crank out a chocolate or vanilla cake and call it a day so I wanted something truly spectacular to remember Magnolia by. I saw it the minute I walked through the door. Red velvet cheesecake. I've never even heard of such a thing, let alone even imagined its existence. It. Was. Glorious. The flavor of red velvet--so difficult to even describe--was captured perfectly in this individual serving of cake. Paired with a chocolate crumb crust and plain whipped cream, I can honestly say that this is the best dessert I have ever eaten. It is worth the trip to NY, I don't care where you live.
My next stop was just three blocks away at Kyotofu. I know what you're thinking, Tofu? Bakery? But stick with me here. Kyotofu is actually a unique concept that fuses Japanese flavors and French culinary techniques into what is essentially a dessert restaurant. Opened in 2006 and already voted New York's best cupcake in 2007 by New York Magazine and one of the Best Worldwide Meals of 2008 by USA Today, you can bet that these people are on to something. Unfortunately, I was short on time so I was only able to grab a selection of Okara Soybean Cookies to go in flavors like matcha green tea and black sesame ($3.25 for 5 mini cookies) but if you have a chance you MUST take a seat in the back dining room. Sleek and sophisticated, the ambiance perfectly frames the elegant dessert selections. Though the sweet tofu has garnered rave reviews, for those not ready to take the plunge Kyotofu offers plenty of other delectable, less tofu-heavy options like miso chocolate cake, chocolate soufflé cupcakes or a seasonal selection. If you drop by for bruch, some of their savory options even include a complimentary cocktail! I wanted to include a photo of my cookies here but somehow they managed to get smushed either during the 27 block hike from Kyotofu to Bombay Talkie or the mad dash at 6:48pm to catch my 7:00pm bus back to DC. Such is the life of the traveling baker...
Some other fun places I passed:
Some other fun places I passed: